Maginot Line

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Maginot Line

(măzh`ĭnō, Fr. mäzhēnō`), system of fortifications along the eastern frontier of France, extending from the Swiss border to the Belgian. It was named for André Maginot, who was French minister of war (1929–32) and who directed its construction. Although considered impregnable, the line was still not complete at the outbreak (1939) of World War II. Its actual strength was never tested, for the line was flanked by the Germans in their French campaign of 1940. Like fortified lines since the Great Wall of ChinaGreat Wall of China,
series of fortifications, c.3,890 mi (6,260 km) long (not including trenches and natural defensive barriers), winding across N China from Gansu prov. to Liaoning prov.
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, the chief effect it had was to create a false sense of security; it could not eliminate the necessity for mobile warfare, and that particular lesson was thoroughly learned after the French collapse of 1940.


See V. Rowe, The Great Wall of France (1959); J. M. Hughes, To the Maginot Line (1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Maginot Line


a system of French fortifications on the border with Germany, about 380 km long, running from Belfort to Longuyon.

The Maginot Line was built at the suggestion of Minister of War A. Maginot in 1929-34 and was continually improved upon until 1940. It was designed to protect northeastern France against German invasion. It included three fortified regions (Metz, Lauter, and Belfort), the Rhine fortified front, and the Saar obstacle region. It consisted of a security zone (4-14 km deep) and a main zone (6-8 km deep). About 5,600 permanent pillboxes were built on the Maginot Line; this included 520 for artillery, 3,200 for machine guns, and 1,800 others. The pillboxes were joined into strongpoints, and the strongpoints were joined in centers of resistance and ensembles. Deep within the defense were the modernized fortresses of Belfort, Epinal, Toul, and Verdun. The strongpoints and centers of resistance were covered by antitank and anti-infantry obstacles.

In 1936-40 the Maginot Line was extended to the North Sea by construction of the Daladier Line. It was 620 km long and included three fortified regions (Montmedy Maubeuge, and Schelde) and two obstacle regions (Flanders and Ardennes), but it was not completed. The Maginot Line had a garrison of fortress troops (about 200,000), who were reinforced and transformed into an army group at the beginning of World War II (1939-45). In 1940 the fascist German forces reached the rear of the Maginot Line through the Ardennes and after the surrender of France forced the garrison of the Maginot Line to give up. After the war most of the surviving and restored structures were turned into storehouses for military gear.


lakovlev, V. V. Sovremennaia voenno-inzhenernaia podgotovka vostochnoi granitsy Frantsii: Liniia Mazhino. Moscow, 1938.
Karbyshev, D. M. “Mazhino i pozitsiia Zigfrida.” In his book Izbr. nauch, trudy. Moscow, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Maginot Line

French fortification zone along German border; thought impregnable before WWII. [Fr. Hist.: NCE, 1658]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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